Selecting the Right Test Sieve for Non-Conventional Use

Selecting the Right Test Sieve for Non-Conventional Use

While sifting flour for a cake is significantly different than test sieving aggregates for road construction, the premise is the same: there’s a recipe for success to follow. Both require specific processes and any variation can result in failure. Whether baking or sieving, understanding that you need to follow the recipe is integral to a good result.

What Should You Know About Test Sieves?

First, there are hundreds to choose from, based on diameter, height, opening sizes, the materials they are made from – and how they will be used. While the most popular frame diameters for “conventional” test sieves are 8in or 12in (203 or 305mm), conventional sieves are also available in diameters as small as 3in (76mm) and as large as 18in (457mm).

For many years, brass was the material of choice for both frames and woven-wire mesh because it was affordable. Stainless steel was expensive and its use was reserved for applications where contamination or abrasion could be a problem. These days, brass has become more expensive while stainless steel has come down in price, making it the most durable, affordable, and cleanest option for frames and cloth. The overall service life of any sieve is a function of its frequency of use, type of sample material, and level of care. The smaller wire diameter used to weave fine mesh sieves means that they will have a shorter useful life than test sieves with coarse openings. With proper care, Stainless Steel Sieves have the longest comparative service life and provide the best option to avoid sample contamination.

Thankfully, we at Gilson know sieves and sieving – and that there is more than longevity to take into account when choosing a test sieve, such as:

  • Level of precision required
  • The fragility of the sample
  • Sample composition: fine granular or powder, or bulky and hard
  • Which test sieves work best with which Sieve Testing equipment

We also know that some applications require non-conventional test sieves. This blog post will explore some of the more unique characteristics and factors related to “alternative” test sieves and identify the right receptacle for your test sieving needs. The charts below highlight what could be considered alternative Test Sieves, their related standards and most-suited sieving equipment, applications, unique properties and material(s) suited to the particular test sieve, and more.

ASTM Precision Electro-Formed SievesASTM Precision Electro-Formed Sieves
PropertiesFormed using electrodeposition of nickel, producing a planar mesh with very consistent square openings. Stainless steel full or half-height frames. Highly accurate and efficient. Opening sizes that range from 5µm to 75µm.


ASTM E161 Standard Specification for Precision Electroformed Sieves
ApplicationsVery fine granular materials, dry powders. Well-suited to dry sieving but wet sieving can be performed with materials that tend to agglomerate. With tolerances of ±1 to 2µm, they are better suited than woven-wire sieves to perform precise particle sizing operations. (Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, cement, food and grain, powdered metals, ceramics)
Related Sieving EquipmentVibratory or Sonic Shakers, GilSonic GA-6 AutoSiever, Gilson GA-8 UltraSiever®
CommentsAvailable in 3in and 8in diameter. Standard and special opening sizes can be ordered.

Micron Air Jet Test SieveMicron Air Jet Test Sieve
200mm diameter sieves with stainless steel cloth and frames, available in a wide
range of opening sizes, 20µm to 4.75mm. The frame is fitted with a special sealing gasket. It comes with ASTM E11 Compliance Grade documentation.
StandardASTM E11 Standard Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
ApplicationsSpecifically made for the Micron Air Jet Sieve® using gentle air pressure for separating 10 to 100g dry powder samples on one sieve at a time. (Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, ores, metal powders, aggregates, ceramics, cement, concrete, coal)
Related Sieving EquipmentMicron Air Jet (old style)
CommentsMade exclusively for an older style of Micron Air Jet, but adaptable to the new Mikro Air Jet Sieve™ by removing the old sealing gasket and installing the SSA-9 low-profile O-ring.

Deep Frame Wet Wash SievesDeep Frame Wet Wash Sieves
PropertiesStainless Steel or Brass/Stainless construction. Depth range of 4-8in with 3-12in diameters. Brass Frames work well with most applications. Stainless Steel frames are more economical, more durable, and offer a longer service life than Brass Frames. Deep frames keep water from splashing out and prevent sample loss.
StandardASTM E11 Standard Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
ApplicationsFines content determinations or to wash away excessive fines from specimens for subsequent particle size testing. Ideal for testing fragile sample specimens. (Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, ores, metal powders, aggregates, ceramics, cement, concrete, coal)
Related Sieving EquipmentMost commonly used in hand-sieving operations, with rinse water and/or gentle spray action.
CommentsAvailable with optional backing cloth for extended service life.

Rocker Screen SetRocker Screen Set
PropertiesA 12in square steel frame with an angled bottom is designed for manual “rocking” (sample agitation). The frame accommodates interchangeable stainless steel wire cloth squares and bottom pan. Wire cloth squares available in No.4 (4.75mm), No. 8 (2.36mm) and No. 16 (1.18mm), and 3/8in, 1/2in, 3/4in, and 1in mesh sizes.
StandardASTM E11 Standard Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
ApplicationsEfficient primary separation of coarse-grained samples for scalping or field gradations. (Aggregates, concrete, asphalt, coal)
Related Sieving EquipmentNo. 4 Test Screen Tray Cloth Only with many opening sizes available, and Stainless Steel Wire Cloth Squares ranging from .250in (6.3mm) to 4.0in (100.0mm), and 150µm, 425µm, and 850µm.
CommentsNot recommended for use with mesh sizes below No. 20.

Two-Part Replaceable Mesh SievesTwo-Part Replaceable Mesh Sieves
PropertiesConstructed of Brass or Clear, Non-Metallic Polycarbonate with 8in (203mm) diameter. Polycarbonate frames nest with each other but not with standard metallic frames, while Brass Frames nest together or with other metallic 8in frames. Polyester or Nylon cloth in 10in squares are tensioned in place when the frame halves are pushed together. Disposable cloth reduces contamination risk and maintenance time. Polyester cloth has strong wet stability; nylon cloth has high tensile strength, but tends to stretch in the water.
StandardCloth Squares opening sizes are equivalent to ASTM E11 but do not meet tolerance requirements. 
ApplicationsPolycarbonate and Brass two-part replaceable frames work well in particle sizing operations and fines content determinations in wash-sieving. (Dry chemicals, powders, aggregates, sands, soils)
Related Sieving EquipmentNo. 20 to No. 80 Mesh, and No. 100 and finer mesh. Polyester or nylon cloth.
CommentsPolycarbonate frames offer easy sample viewing and are not autoclavable. Brass frames have a longer service life.

3” Non-Metallic Sieves3” Non-Metallic Sieves
PropertiesDurable and hand-made by Gilson for special applications. Clear Polycarbonate frames are fitted with non-metallic woven cloth. Polyester monofilament mesh has opening sizes equivalent to the U.S. Standard series from No. 50 (300µm) to No. 635 (20µm), as well as 7, 10, and 15µm.
ApplicationsManual use only, primarily used wet with small samples. (Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and grain, metal powders)
Related Sieving EquipmentNot applicable.
CommentsSieves are autoclavable and can be microwaved to dry; they nest with each other, but not with standard metallic sieves.

3” Acrylic Frame Test Sieves3” Acrylic Frame Test Sieves
PropertiesClear acrylic frames are precision machined and fitted with ASTM E11 stainless steel woven-wire cloth in opening sizes from 5.60mm to 20µm (No. 3 ½ to No. 635), or ASTM E161 Precision Electroformed cloth with openings from 150µm to 5µm. E11 Sieves can be verified to Inspection or Calibration Grades.
StandardASTM E11 Standard Specification for Test Sieves and ASTM E161 Standard Specification for Precision Electroformed Sieves.
Particle sizing and separation of dry powders and fine granular materials ranging from 5.60mm to 5µm. (Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and grain, metal powders)
Related Sieving EquipmentGA-6 GilSonic 3in AutoSiever and SS-3 Gilson Performer III 3in Sieve Shaker.
CommentsE161 Precision Electroformed Sieves can be used for the sizing of materials to 5µm with an accuracy of ±1 to 2µm.

Test Sieves are Not a One-Size-Fits-All Product

Even with the information contained within this blog post, figuring out which is the right test sieve for that more unique application can still be confusing. That’s why we also suggest contacting a member of Gilson’s Technical Support team for assistance or additional information. Technical Support can be reached by sending an email to or by phoning (800) 444-1508 Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

Need more information on sieving overall? There are several other sieve-related blogs and videos posted on the Gilson website. Check out this link for additional topics, as well as our video library.